IAF gets Akash missile shield

NEW DELHI:State-of-the-art Air defence missile system Akash, which is claimed to be more accurate than American patriot missile, was today formally inducted in the Indian Air Force.
The historic induction ceremony was held at Air Force Station in Gwalior where Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar symbolically handed over the indigenously designed, developed and produced Akash missile to Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Chief of the IAF.
Addressing the function, Mr Parrikar lauded the efforts of the DRDO, BEL, public and private industries, inspection agencies and the end user who all worked together to resolve a number of challenges that arose during the production of the Akash missile.
He added that the benefits of the “Make in India” programme such as employment generation, financial growth, self sufficiency and better defence preparedness were there for all to see.
Receiving the ‘key’ of the system, Air Chief Marshal Raha said a total of 27 missiles had been fired after inking of the contract, to ascertain the serviceability of the system in various conditions and a high success rate had been achieved. He also brought out that plans were afoot in the IAF for procurement of additional Akash systems.
IAF already is in the process of two operational squadrons of the all-weather, missile system, which is capable of hitting  aerial targets from the tree-top level to a height of 30 km. It can pin-pointedly destroy high-speed targets like fighter aircraft and UAVs.
The IAF had placed an order for six squadrons for Rs 3,500 crore.
The handing over ceremony was marked by a spectacular display of a drill by the operating crew of Akash pioneers, the first unit in the IAF to induct this system.
The Army had last month inducted the supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash, capable of targeting enemy helicopters, aircraft and UAVs from a range of 25 km.
Indigenous development of Akash system has given impetus to the defence industrial base of the country and generated business of more than Rs 20,000 crore. Akash is the outcome of successful partnership between DRDL, the nodal lab in DRDO, along with 13 other DRDO labs, 19 Public Sector Units (PSUs), 5 Ordinance Factories (OFs), 3 National Laboratories, 6 academic institutions and more than 265 private industries across the country.
“Akash is a potent supersonic mobile multi-directional, multi-target point/ area Air Defence system that can simultaneously engage multiple air targets using sophisticated multi-function phased array radars. The advanced ECCM (Electronic Counter Counter Measures) features provide secure communication links with other Air Defence Command and Control networks to handle the counter electronic warfare scenario,” a Defence Ministry statement said.
The handing over ceremony was marked by a spectacular display of a drill by the operating crew of Akash Pioneers, the first unit in the IAF to induct this system.
The top leadership of the Air Force along with DRDO Chief S Christopher, Chief of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) SK Sharma and the first Project Director of Akash Missile system Dr Prahalada were present on the occasion.  (AGENCIES)